Are you wrecking your body, without even knowing it? Chances are, the answer is yes. From sleep and hygiene habits to diet and exercise, there are a variety of ways that many people are unknowingly damaging their health. Eat This, Not That! surveyed some of the top experts in the country, who revealed some of the most surprising ways you may be destroying your body and mind. Read on to learn what they had to say—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Ignoring your snoring and poor sleep at night is a big no-no when it comes to your health, Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, reveals. “It may be a sign of sleep apnea and you may need a sleep study,” he explains. The results of ignoring this may result in a variety of health ramifications including daytime drowsiness. “Motor vehicle collisions are 2 to 3 times more common in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea,” he notes. There can also be neuropsychiatric issues as a result. “OSA can result in more inattention, memory and cognitive deficits,” he said. Additionally, it can impact your cardiovascular system, increasing risk of hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. Finally there can be pulmonary issues stemming from it, including pulmonary hypertension and right sided heart failure.
Albert Do, MD, clinical director of the Fatty Liver Disease Program at Yale Medicine and assistant professor, Yale School of Medicine points out that there are over 200 complications which have been reported due to excess weight and obesity. “They range across all organs of the body, and many of which can be silent until only until a disease becomes severe,” he explains. For example, diabetes (elevated blood sugar) can cause damage to multiple organs including your nerves, kidneys, eyes, and lead to a heart attack. Similarly, fatty liver disease can cause liver inflammation, scarring, and severe scarring also known as cirrhosis. Luckily, there is something you can do about obesity. “Weight loss of as little as 5% has been found to improve many obesity-related diseases, and can go a long way in improving health as well as quality of life,” Dr. Do points out.
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Having poor posture hurts your health more than you realize, explains Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, NYC Area Spinal and Orthopedic Surgeon. “When you slump or slouch, so does your spine, and you keep your body from obtaining the necessary circulation it requires, thus leading to bad circulation,” he explains. Chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain can also result from the strain of bad positioning. Poor posture can also negatively affect your lung capacity and function. “When you hunch forward or lean all the time, your heart, brain, and other organs don’t get the oxygen they need. This could lead to heart and vascular disease, poor cognitive function, and shortness of breath.”
Dr. Okubadejo reveals that sleeping on an old mattress can be detrimental to your health. “Your bed is something you use every day, but many people don’t realize how important their mattress is for good health. From years of use, old mattresses tend to lose their shape and start to form dips or curves when weight is applied,” he explains. “Sleeping with your spine curved instead of aligned properly can lead to chronic back pain or constant stiffness.” An old mattress can also lead you to lose sleep. “When you are sleep deprived, your body’s ability to detect when you are full is distorted; when this happens, people often feel hungrier, which leads them to eat more and ultimately gain weight. Sleep loss over time from an old mattress can also lead to a weakened immune system, making you more likely to get sick.”
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Jessica Mazzucco, NYC Certified Fitness Trainer, warns that failing to move enough can be fatal. “A sedentary lifestyle is extremely dangerous,” she says. “However, people around the world are spending more time doing sedentary activities. When you have an inactive lifestyle, you put yourself at risk for obesity, heart diseases, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes, among other chronic diseases. Regular exercise can extend your life, lower your risk of chronic diseases, boost your mood, and help you lose weight, among other benefits.”
While exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, you can overdo it warns Jennifer Conroyd Certified Fitness Trainer and Founder of Fluid Running. “The downside of running is that when striking the ground, the force is 3x that of your body weight,” she explains. “That means a 150-pound person is hitting the ground as if they weighed 450 pounds. That’s a lot of pressure on your joints. No wonder 70% of runners end up with injuries.”
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, NYC Neuropsychologist, Faculty Member Columbia University warns that stress can literally make you sick. “Chronic stress causes your brain to pump out the stress hormone cortisol. This process inhibits T cells, the blood’s first responders against disease. In other words, the stress hormone can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system and make you more prone to the flu or colds,” she says. “Chronic stress may also lead to heightened blood pressure, or lead you to overeat or drink too much alcohol.”
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Dr. Hafeez also warns against allowing yourself to get too lonely. “Social isolation has been linked to higher risks of mental and physical conditions such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and even death. It’s important to make an effort to reach out to family, friends, or a mental health professional to cope with loneliness in a healthy way,” she says.
Popping pimples may seem harmless enough, but Stacy Chimento, MD, board-certified Miami dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology warns that it can severely damage your skin. “Picking at your acne and comedones can cause great harm to your skin,” she explains. “Even greater harm can come when people buy professional extraction kits that a licenced esthetician or dermatologist should only use because in trying to perform these extractions at home, one can cause permanent scarring and pockmarks.” And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss these First Signs You Have a Serious Illness.